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February 23, 2013

Josh Booty is Back in Baseball

After being out of professional baseball for 15 years, former first round draft pick (and NFL prospect) Josh Booty is back in the game.

As a 37-year-old knuckleballer.

Booty, who was taken fifth overall by the then-Florida Marlins in 1994, saw his Major League career fizzle after just 13 big league games from 1996-1998.  Now, after winning the MLB Network's reality series "The Next Knuckler"...he's hoping to latch on with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I think that there's a chance, even if it's small," Booty told Arizona Sports 620.  "If you can throw that knuckleball for strikes; it's such a change of pace on what everybody else is doing it will throw people for a loop."

"I'll be following it very close," Booty's mentor, and knuckleball legend Tim Wakefield said following Booty's reality show victory Thursday night, "and I think he's got a real chance of making the team out of spring training." 

"I've got a long way to go," Booty said, "but my wildest dream is to have the chance to take the mound in a Major League Baseball game."

And, really, why couldn't he have a chance.  Toronto Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey throws a knuckleball, and not only did he win the 2012 National League Cy Young Award...but he's also just inked a two-year, $25 million extension to do so.

"We don't want to put him out there as some gimmick," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "My job is to give him an opportunity to show what he can do."

To win the contest, Booty, a former quarterback at LSU, had to beat out four other signal John David Booty, Doug Flutie, David Greene and Ryan Perrilloux.  And as the winner, not only does he get a shot at making the Diamondbacks as a non-roster invitee, but he'll earn $179.43 per day to cover food, housing and other expenses.

A far cry from the reported $1.6 million he pocketed as a 19-year-old with the Marlins organization.

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